Oprah and California Pics!

Hey, guys!

Just got back from a delightful week-long vacation to northern California. On my arrival home, I heard the happy news that The Queen of Water is an Oprah book pick for ages 12-14!  The book's in great company-- some of my all-time faves are also on the list, like Feed by MT Anderson. Very big honor!  The list was compiled by the ALA Children's Book Council and the Association for Library Service to Children (but I like to think that Oprah herself might feel inspired to read it, too.... :-)

Lil Dude

So, my vacation.  It was fun! We've had a hot and fiery and smoky summer here in Fort Collins, so a trip to the coast was just what my family needed.  The weather was deliciously foggy and cool-- I got to wear sweaters and scarves and jeans!  Bliss. I still managed to get sunburnt, though... on my bottom lip of all places! (Bright side: some people pay big bucks for this beestung look.)


Ian and Lil Dude and I met up with our dear old friend (from middle and high school) and her family, and explored beaches just south of San Francisco.  We spotted seals, sea otters, anemones, dolphins (or porpoises?), and all kinds of sea birds.  Oh, and this funny creature that kept popping up and disappearing, and reminded me of that game whack-a-mole (but no whacking occurred).

I love looking at and touching small things that make patterns, like these blue pebbles on a beach at Punto Lobos...

 And these succulents on the hills by the beach at Bean Hollow...


And these pretty, tiny treasures I gathered...

Ian enjoyed swinging giant ropes of kelp around, lasso-style...

Lil Dude spent hours playing catch with the waves.... he'd run back and forth with an exuberant smile, shouting "Oh, dear! Oh, dear!  Oh, dear!"  He can't pronounce his r's, which made it extra-amusing to witness.


Relaxing on the rock crags...

We swung by the Santa Cruz boardwalk so Lil Dude could go on some rides... brought back memories of my own childhood summer vacations in Ocean City, Maryland.  Rides, mini-golf, funnel cake, softserv vanilla cake cones with rainbow sprinkles, fresh-squeezed lemonade.

The drive along Route 1 is so breathtaking... we went a couple hours south of San Francisco-- down to Carmel-by-the-Sea, stopping lots along the way (including sweet Half Moon Bay, where I've done author visits). I'd love to drive farther south sometime, to Big Sur and beyond.

Lil Dude is such an enthusiastic traveler-- really bold and adventurous-- although his favorite parts of any trip are usually the hotel breakfast and pool. Here he is giving me a kiss on top of a  stone "castle" we found on the beach, where he declared me a queen and him a knight. He's precious... and believe it or not, he'll be starting kindergarten next week. Gulp.


I didn't bring my laptop on the trip, which was really nice... I just read and scribbled a bit in my notebook and thought and dreamt of my book-in-progress-- just what I needed.  Now I'm feeling like I have a better perspective on it, and more confidence that my brain can handle the intricacies of this story (I was starting to have doubts before...) I think the waves and wind and salt and sand did my brain some good.

Thanks for reading!  Oh, and if you're in the Maryland area, please come chat with me at the "Baltimore Bred" panel discussion (5:30, Saturday, Children's Stage) at the Baltimore Book Festival at the end of September!!!